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Retailiatory Strike

Don't let the big boxes win without a fight. There's plenty of room for start-ups to make their mark in retail.

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This story appears in the December 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In a world dominated by big-box retailers, it's easy to feel like David battling Goliath if you want to start an independent retail business. "Why bother?" you think. "I'll only get crushed." But your small size could save your business these days. "[Many big boxes] aren't as invincible as they once seemed. They've gotten so big and bloated," says Bob Phibbs, a Long Beach, California, small-business retail consultant and author of You Can Compete! The Retail Doctor's Tools to Doubling Your Sales. Another plus: Consumer spending and retail have remained strong through the economic ups and downs. Retail sales in 2001 totaled about $3.5 trillion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which compiles retail statistics.

Shopping today is about time and convenience, says Tom Buxton, president and CEO of The Buxton Company, a retail market research firm in Fort Worth, Texas, that represents more than 500 clients, including FedEx, Kinko's and Pier 1 Imports. "Successful retailers are focusing on lifestyles," he says.

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